I think you’re both partly right. I’m going to do a pretty big shake-up of how this final group stage will be conducted, before it’s too late to reverse course. It’s annoying and inelegant, but I think it will be better. Bear with me, this is a long post but I want to be as transparent as possible about how I’m approaching this. There will be a TL: DR summary at the end. I originally chose to go with biomes for a few reasons. I wanted to keep the game fresh, rather than endlessly repeating the same basic discussions. I wanted to challenge people to come up with new perspectives. And without ever quite explaining it thus, I quietly echoed what I think are the three basic organising structures zoos tend to choose from when developing a master plan: taxonomic arrangements (out of fashion, perhaps, but still interesting), geographic and biomes. I really like the biome concept and I intend to keep it, for all the above reasons. At the same time, Thylo has correctly identified a problem with the existing structure that I don’t think has *quite* yet been realised, as Anton argues, but which soon will be. I don’t want what I think has so far been a successful Cup to end on a dull note with a series of lopsided, narrowly-focused contests. And looking ahead at the schedule, I think that’s what would happen. The biome categories don’t really suit the roster of zoos that we have in our final eight. I should have considered this more carefully. When I mapped out the eight-zoo, seven biomes structure I tested it with a couple of hypothetical groups of eight zoos, but I’m obviously a poor predictor of outcomes and the roster we have is particularly light on for zoos with strong marine, desert and montane/polar collections, particularly. At the same time, as Thylo says, grasslands and the two forest categories are fairly robust. So here’s step one in my restructure plan. We will collapse the existing seven categories into four: Tropical forests remains as it is. ‘Temperate Forests’ gains the ‘mountains’ component of the ‘mountains and poles’ category. I am open for suggestions for a pithy name for this one. This new category will inherit the draw that previously applied to ‘temperate forests’. ‘Grasslands’ becomes ‘grasslands and deserts’. Again, if you have a better name hit me up. Otherwise it will do. This category inherits the former ‘grasslands’ draw. Freshwater is merged with marine and the ‘poles’ component of the former mountain and poles category. This category will be known as Aquatics, and it will inherit the former freshwater draw. When I say that a category ‘inherits a draw’ what I mean is that a match that was previously slated to be held on ‘freshwater’ will instead take place on Aquatics. That raises the question of what to do about the Zurich-Chester and Omaha-Vienna matches that have already been held or are underway. I’ll return to that below. These four categories work well together, I feel. No zoo is overwhelmingly strong in all of them, but all are good in at least two or three. Across the four of them they will catch the vast majority of species, exhibits and themes that exist in the eight surviving zoos. That leaves the problem of having seven matches per zoo, and only four categories. I do not want to have a zoo playing twice on the same category, and so my solution for the 12 matches that were to be played on one of Deserts, Marine or Mountains and Poles is that we will partially return to taxonomic and geographic categories. Each zoo will still play once on all four biome categories, and then they will have three matches on taxonomic or geographic categories. It took a little bit of work with a pen and pencil, but I have identified a set of match-ups that meets the following criteria I wanted to achieve: No zoo will draw a category that it has previously competed in during the first or second rounds. This criteria was why I didn’t simply do another random draw: two of the 12 matches literally only had one possible category without repeats, and so I had to start with those two and work outwards. No recycled category will be used more than twice. As an aside, this was actually trickier than it sounds, because I was interested to discover that drawing certain categories proved much less predictive of whether a zoo would reach the final round than others. There is no material impact on what I will call the ‘expected wins’, compared to what I estimate might have happened if we used the now-discarded biomes instead. In other words, I don’t believe any zoo gains or loses as a result of this retrospective change. Obviously it’s possible that my predictions on how those biomes would play out are wrong, but this is unknown and unknowable. I can honestly say, with a clear conscience, that I don’t think making this change has altered the prospects of any competing zoo. I won’t lie, this is a messier solution than I would like, but I think it has some compensating benefits too. The winning zoo will ultimately have been tested on 13 out of 15 categories across the three themes: there really isn’t much chance for zoos to hide their flaws or to miss out on flaunting their strengths. Zoos that had to overcome weaknesses to get this far will benefit now, whereas those that rode their luck here will have their work cut out for them. One final piece of the puzzle is the afore-mentioned matches that have been held on now-rejected categories. I don’t think it’s fair for Zurich and Chester to have competed on only half of the aquatics category, or for Vienna and Omaha to have done the same for ‘temperates’. As such, here’s the messiest bit of all: these two matches will be reopened. I will post new polls and a moderator will merge the new and existing threads. If people vote in the new poll, that vote supersedes the previous one, otherwise the existing vote will count. The third match, in which Bronx faced Wroclaw on tropical forests, is unaffected and will not be extended. So, to summarise: Seven biome categories will become four: tropical forests, temperates, grasslands&deserts and aquatics The remaining slots will use taxonomic or geographic categories that the respective zoos have not previously drawn. Two matches, between Omaha and Vienna, and Zurich and Chester, will be extended to account for the changed terms of reference.